By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — The NHL’s trade deadline is Feb. 24, but the action has already begun across the league. Marco Scandella went from the Canadiens to the Blues, Brenden Dillon went from the Sharks to the Capitals, Tyler Toffoli went from the Kings to the Canucks, Andy Greene went from the Devils to the Islanders, and Blake Coleman went from the Devils to the Lightning. And that’s just the action since Sunday.
Clearly, NHL general managers have made efforts to take care of business before the clock starts ticking on deadline day. On that front, Don Sweeney likely knows he has to jump into the action sooner than later. That may be easier said than done, considering it appears to be a seller’s market at the moment.
Talked to 3 GMs this afternoon, about the prices for players right now, ahead of the Monday deadline. All used different terms…but had the same sentiment:
"The prices are Crazy!" "Nuts!""Madness!".
— John Shannon (@JShannonhl) February 18, 2020
Nevertheless, the Bruins need a second-line right wing. Short of that, adding a top-six forward would serve as a much-needed upgrade to the team that leads the NHL in points but likely needs a boost in order to make another run through June.
Here’s a list of players in whom the Bruins have been rumored to have interest. Of course, they had been rumored to have a Toffoli deal “in their hip pocket” more than a month ago, so the rumors and reports don’t always result in action.
RW – Kyle Palmieri
This one’s only been rumored, not reported. But it makes the most sense, given that Palmieri could theoretically slide in on David Krejci’s right wing.
Palmieri, 29, has 22 goals and 19 assists this season, leading the Devils in both goals and points. He’s been a consistent player going back five years, as he averaged 27 goals and 24 assists from 2015-19, while playing in 75 games per year.
Palmieri will be expensive, though, because he has a full year left on his contract (with a very manageable $4.625 million cap hit) after this season.
The Devils should be motivated to move, Palmieri, though. They’re the fourth-worst team in the NHL, and they’ve already dealt Taylor Hall, Andy Greene and Blake Coleman this season.
Chris Kreider – LW
With Brad Marchand on the top line and Jake DeBrusk on the second line, paying a high price for a left winger wouldn’t be ideal for Boston. But last year’s acquisition of Marcus Johansson showed that Sweeney will add a left-shot forward if the player is deemed worthwhile.
Kreider likely checks those boxes, and it was reported on Tuesday that the Kreider sweepstakes is currently down to the Bruins, Avalanche, and Kreider’s current team in Manhattan. It seems as though the Rangers want to try to sign the pending UFA to a long-term deal, but if that can’t get done — soon — then the team will move the 28-year-old.
If the Bruins do acquire Kreider, he’d become the fourth member of the current roster from Massachusetts. (Kreider is from Boxford, while Charlie Coyle is from Weymouth, Chris Wagner is from Walpole, and Matt Grzelcyk is from Charlestown.) Kreider, who also played at Boston College, has 23 goals and 19 assists on the season. He made this year’s All-Star team as an injury replacement for Artemi Panarin.
Josh Anderson – RW
Joe Haggerty this week reported that the Bruins are “very much interested” in Josh Anderson. That wouldn’t be the typical deadline pickup, as Anderson is having a dreadful season in Columbus.
The 25-year-old big-bodied winger has just one goal and three assists in 26 games played this season. He hasn’t played since mid-December while dealing with a shoulder injury. He also suffered a shoulder injury last spring during the playoff series against the Bruins (an unpleasant series for Anderson overall).
Anderson’s low production this year is certainly an outlier, as he averaged 21 goals and 14 assists per year over the previous three seasons. At 6-foot-3, 222 pounds, Anderson could theoretically fill the role that’s really gone empty on Krejci’s wing since Nathan Horton left the Bruins.
Joe Thornton – C (left shot)
Could it really happen? A Jumbo Joe reunion in Boston, 15 years later?
If it were to happen, it’d be quite a story for the former Bruins captain to return to the team that drafted him with the first overall pick back in 1997.
At age 40, Thornton isn’t exactly an impact player at this point in his career — and that’s even when compared just to the past few seasons. Thornton has two goals on the year, after scoring 16 last season and 13 the year prior. He does have 23 assists, and he’s still 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds.
His All-Star days are well in his past (his last ASG was 2009), but at the very least, a Thornton return to Boston would make for a compelling storyline. And the hockey world sure does love a good storyline.
Bruce Garrioch of The Ottawa Sun reported that some NHL executives believe Boston could be a fit for Thornton, who likely wouldn’t cost very much. He has a no-trade clause but is still seeking that first Stanley Cup of his long career.
Ilya Kovalchuk – LW (right shot)
For the Bruins to earnestly go after Kovalchuk, Sweeney would have to admit a mistake in not going after the veteran winger when he was available in early January for nothing more than a league minimum contract.
The Canadiens pounced on that opportunity, after Kovalchuk had been dumped by the Kings. Since then, Kovalchuk has enjoyed somewhat of a revival, scoring six goals with six assists in 20 games. (A two-time 52-goal scorer, Kovalchuk posted 19-24-43 totals in his 81 games with the Kings.) The Canadiens, though, remain 10 points out of a playoff spot, so they’ll likely look to turn their light investment into an opportunity to pick up some assets.
Eric Engels of Sportsnet mentioned the Bruins as a potential suitor for Kovalchuk, though that was more than a week ago. Kovalchuk has since posted zero points in his last five games.